RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Walk: Amberley and Wepham Downs

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Here are the lonely and stony old downs at their most remote on this five mile (8km) march close to the sky.

There is limited parking at TQ039111 at the end of the lane from North Stoke hamlet, (which is in the Arun valley), at a place called Canada, (which meant remote).

The area is a zone for the conservation of downland birds, with strips of wild flowers.

Dogs are not encouraged to run wild here. I like to follow the track eastward on the bridleway signs, passing above the little triangular wood, making a dog-leg left and right across the junction and so continue east on the bridleway signs for a mile crossing two deep valleys.

This is one of the hunting grounds of peregrine falcons and hen harriers.

It is also used by autumn and spring passage migrants, such as stonechats and ring ouzels which might perch on wire fences giving you a good view.

Climbing out of the valley onto Wepham Down, take the bridleway left at crossways, to head north up to Rackham Hill.

To the right you will see Harrow Hill, the hill fort with its Neolithic flint mines so well explored by the archaeologists Petrie and Pitt Rivers of the last century.

After about a mile you come to a crossway. Take the second left, which is a purple arrow byway, going west towards a shelter belt of pines and birch trees.

After 300 yards the path diverges, and the turn right onto the blue arrow bridleway will take you to the South Downs Way. Turn left, westward, along it, and one of the most inspiring views in the world will be revealed below you.

Here the Arun valley is set with its beating heart of Amberley Wildbrooks, a flood plain with 300 species of wild flowers, and hundreds of wetland birds.

Below to the right is Parham Park with its ancient oak trees and herd of black deer.

Far ahead at 22 miles lie the North Downs. 14 miles northwest is Blackdown where the Victorian poet, Tennyson lived.

To the left is Steep in Hampshire, and the hill home of Edward Thomas, the WWI poet.

Dropping downhill from Amberley Mount, you come to the turning left on a bridleway going southward.

This crosses over a byway and descends deep into a silent valley, sheep grazed to bring back a rich flower sward of rare downland flowers.

A vast old dewpond here was known to the Edwardian writer W.H.Hudson.

There are few other places of the South Downs which give such a sense of remoteness redolent of an ancient way of life, as in this valley.

There is one final turn, this is to the right down the byway with its purple arrow, back to Canada.

They were right with that description of this place.